No matter our age, we want to be healthy now and stay healthy in the future.
As family caregivers of aging parents, grandparents, and other family members, we can help facilitate a healthy lifestyle to improve our senior loved ones’ health, especially when they are faced with chronic diseases.
When they are present, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other chronic diseases have no cure, only treatment to manage them.
Preventing them from occurring is a good goal to have.
We can start the year off with a bang by creating a lifestyle with healthy choices and habits for the ones for whom we care as well as ourselves so we can be better caregivers.
There are many risk factors for developing chronic diseases. We have the power to reduce the risks associated with chronic diseases by making lifestyle changes.
Uncontrollable Risk Factors
Risk factors that can’t be controlled or modified by you are known as unmodifiable risk factors.
- Family History
Even though you can’t change these risks, it is important to be aware of how they may affect your senior loved one’s health, as well as your own.
Controllable Risk Factors
Things that you can change to improve your health and your senior loved one’s health are in your control or modifiable risk factors such as these.
- Physical Activity
- Blood Pressure
It isn’t as easy as swallowing a magic pill that will make you and your senior ‘all better’ but a commitment to realizing what isn’t working and trying to change that to benefit your health.
Resolving to Strive for Better Health
Taking charge of your health and helping your senior see that it is never too late to make positive health changes will start your New Year off on the right footing!
Change is not easy!
Decide what risk factors you and your senior can change to make a real difference in your health and then come up with a plan to lower those risks.
Here are some things you can do together to ensure that you both will have health in the New Year!
- Talk to your doctor about preventing and controlling chronic diseases. Do you know your numbers? Do you know which chronic disease you are at highest risk to develop such as heart attack, hypertension, diabetes, or stroke? Determine where your focus should be after discussing test results with your doctor to develop a plan of treatment.
- Eat right. Eat a variety of fresh foods, limit fried foods, include whole grains and foods with fiber, substitute unsaturated fats for saturated fats, include fruits and vegetables each meal, drink plenty of water, and limit salt in your meals.
- Stop smoking! There are many diseases directly related to smoking. There are also many smoking cessation programs that can be done with the help of your doctor or a support system such as via a smartphone app.
- Get moving! Participate in some physical activity every day! It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, take a long time, or be boring. Do what you love everyday, whether it is walking, dancing, working in the garden, golfing, or playing exergames on the gaming system. Get up and get moving. If they are more to your liking, try yoga, tai chi, or square dancing!
- Lose weight and keep it off! No one wants to think they are overweight, but being heavier than we should carries with it numerous health risks. Even losing 5-10 pounds will benefit your health. You don’t have to stop eating what you love, just reduce portion sizes and snacking, limit sweetened beverages, and get active to manage your weight.
- Check your cholesterol and do what is needed to get in under 200. Discuss cholesterol lowering strategies with your doctor and dietitian.
- Cope with what’s bothering you and reduce your stress. Turn that frown upside down and smile! Find ways to reduce your stress or cope with the stress you know you have! Reach out if stress becomes overwhelming and turns into depression.
- Keep track of blood pressure and keep it in range. If you or your senior has hypertension, be sure to monitor your blood pressure and follow your specific treatment plan with medications, diet, or activity changes.
- Get your blood sugar tested and follow a treatment plan to keep your numbers in control. If you have prediabetes, make diet and health changes to avoid being diagnosed with diabetes. Keeping your blood sugar in range will pay off in health benefits by reducing the likelihood of vascular complications.
- Get a restful night’s sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene by darkening the room, removing the distractions, getting a comfortable bed, controlling the temperature and air movement, and avoiding taking sleep aides.
We wish you and your senior loved ones a happy and HEALTHY New Year!
Stay on track with your lifestyle changes to be the best you both can be as you age!
We welcome your stories of success so we can share your good news with others and help them along their path!